My Secret Life: David Bellamy, broadcaster and botanist, 78

My parents were... Thomas Bellamy and Winifred May Bellamy.

The house/flat I grew up in... 124 St Dunstans Hill, Cheam. We were quite high up and could see London in the distance. In the war, we could actually see it with a telescope, and we watched it burn.

When I was a child I wanted to... be a ballet dancer. I tried to do it – I actually had some lessons – but my physique was quite large, so I knew I couldn't. But I wish I had.

If I could change one thing about myself... I would make my beard grow much better so I would look like Charles Darwin. I was the second person ever to be on the cover of Nature, a top scientific publication, and the person who beat me to it was Darwin. The picture was of me chasing a girl in a grass skirt with a lawnmower – and the caption was 'Science is fun'. Wow: I really should have retired at that point.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at... sleeping on moving vehicles.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... talking on telephones. I don't own a mobile phone at all, I just can't hack them.

What I see when I look in the mirror... A chameleon. Sometimes you think 'fantastic', sometimes you think 'I can't look that old!'.

I wish I'd never worn... a suit. I'm on my fourth, because my wife makes me buy another one every now and then.

I drive... a Hyundai. I once built a Lotus Super Seven, it was racing green. I wish I still had it, but we have to cut back on petrol.

My favourite item of clothing... Shorts. I like short shorts. I have super knees.

It's not fashionable but I like... my Speedos. All my children hate them, they try to hide them. They say I'm too old to wear them; I say just wait till you see me in them.

My house is... very ancient, and sits in the middle of a wood by a lake. We used to try to grow all our vegetables but we had so many rabbits we gave up! Now we eat the rabbits.

My secret crush is... Edith Piaf. I was brought up in a strict Baptist way and when I heard her sing I thought, 'There is another part of the world...'.

Movie heaven... Disney's Fantasia. I've probably watched it 200 times, it made me understand the science of music. I still think that the toadstools dancing round are phenomenal.

A book that changed me... A Girl of the Limberlost. It was all about a little girl growing up in America when all the trees started to be chopped down and the wonderful wetlands were drained. It made me who I am: I realised the world is a wonderful place but we do mess it up.

My real-life villains... Whoever made me an addict of Midsomer Murders! I really hated it at first – but it grows on you.

The last time I cried... When I heard they are planning to put a very big road through the Serengeti in Africa. It mustn't happen – if I've got to, I'll be down there on a picket line.

My five-year plan... To keep fit, because there's a lot still to be discovered, and I wanna be part of it. I want to write a book too, for the kids, to show them just how wonderful a place it is that we live, a planet that goes round and round at a phenomenal rate, and how lucky we are to live on it.

What's the point? The point of the whole multi-coloured tapestry of life is to enjoy it – and I still do.

My life in six words... Rosemary, Rufus, Henrietta, Brighid, Eoghain, Hannah.

A life in brief

David Bellamy was born in 1933. He began lecturing in botany at Durham University in 1960, becoming a professor in 1982. He has written over 45 books on botany, ecology and environmental issues and has presented around 400 television programmes. He was awarded an OBE in 1994. Bellamy and the National Trust are supporting Copella's Plant and Protect campaign (copellafruitjuice.co.uk). He lives with his wife Rosemary in Bedburn in the Pennines

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine